January 3

Santa Maria, Impruneta, Firenze, Tuscany, Italy

Impruneta is a hill town south of Florence. Its icon of the Madonna and Child is said to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist and brought to Tuscany by St. Peter's disciple St. Romulus, who hid it from persecutors in pruinetis, among the pines. Then, the story goes, it was lost until local Christians tried building a church. Repeatedly, walls erected during the day fell down at night, so they decided to move the project to another location. When the cart of stones reached the site of the present church, the oxen knelt down. People excavated and found the painting. On the site of an even more ancient place of worship, the Church of St. Mary was consecrated January 3, 1060, according to the old foundation stone mounted into the Renaissance facade. A niche designed by Michelozzo and festively ornamented by Luca della Robbia houses the precious painting, which is seldom displayed. Unlike other paintings attributed to St. Luke, most of which are half-length portraits with the dark complexions and draperies common to Byzantine icons, the Impruneta Madonna is shown full length, seated on a throne, wearing a large jeweled crown and necklace and a vermilion robe. Her green mantle is in her lap instead of on her shoulders, beneath the forward-facing Christ Child, whom she holds with her right hand. In another departure from tradition, her other hand does not point toward the child, bless the viewer, or hold a symbol of her status. Instead, it rests on her knee, pointing downward, as if to call attention to the base of the throne -- suggesting, perhaps, the foundation of her calling in the mandate of God. Art historians date the painting to the 1200s, although it has qualities suggestive of the earlier Romanesque. It is hard to be sure what the original was like, as the Anglo-Tuscan artist Ignazio Hugford repainted it in 1758. (Information and image from "Church of Santa Maria," www.impruneta.com/second-pages/top-page-eng.htm.) 

Also commemorated this date:

Virgen del Amparo, Chinavita, Boyacá, Colombia (Virgin of Refuge). Romería. 
Virgen de la Soledad, San Juan Ixtayopan, Tláhuac, Distrito Federal, Mexico. Fiesta.

marian calendar     january


Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly